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Foreign secretary Hunt: Syria's Assad will be around for a while

Foreign secretary Hunt: Syria's Assad will be around for a while
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a banner showing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Douma, outside Damascus, Syria, September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Marko Djurica/File Photo -
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Marko Djurica(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) - Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will remain in place for "a while" thanks to support from Russia, even though Britain's position was still that he remains a block to lasting peace.

"The British long-standing position is that we won't have lasting peace in Syria with that (Assad-led) regime, but regretfully, we do think he's going to be around for a while," Hunt told Sky News.

Nearly eight years into a war that has displaced millions of Syrians, Assad has recovered control of most of the country with support from Russia, Iran, and Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Last week, the United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus, marking a diplomatic boost for Assad from a U.S.-allied Arab state that once backed rebels fighting him.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)

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